Pediatric medical assistants perform office duties and provide basic patient care services at children's hospitals and pediatric clinics. They help families fill out paperwork, prepare examination rooms, help doctors administer tests, and work with insurance companies to receive compensation. The requirements to become a pediatric medical assistant can vary between different employers and regions, but most professionals hold degrees or certificates from community colleges or vocational schools. Official certification and on-the-job training prepare new medical assistants for the wide variety of tasks they will perform in their careers.
Before deciding to become a pediatric medical assistant, an individual should determine if he or she would be well-suited for the job. Assistants are typically expected to be friendly, organized, detail-oriented, and computer proficient. Strong communication skills are essential in order to effectively deal with patients and their families in the office and over the telephone. In addition, a pediatric medical assistant needs to be able to foster a comfortable, calm environment in waiting areas and exam rooms to put nervous children at ease.
Some doctors will hire medical assistants with little or no post-secondary education, but the majority of employers prefer applicants with college experience. Most community colleges, technical schools, and allied health centers offer medical assistant training programs that may last between six months and two years. In school, a student has the chance develop strong administrative office skills as well as basic clinical medical assisting skills. Classes in computers, business administration, medical terminology, and insurance billing and coding ensure that a student is fully prepared to become a pediatric medical assistant.
Certification is not always required to become a pediatric medical assistant, but passing a certification test can significantly improve a person's credentials and chances of finding employment. Many organizations offer certification to new workers, and an individual can learn about testing dates and requirements by browsing official websites or calling organization representatives. In the United States, the American Association of Medical Assistants administers written and computerized tests at different times throughout the year.
With the appropriate education and certification, an individual can apply to become a pediatric medical assistant at children's hospitals, clinics, and private pediatrician's offices. Once hired, an assistant can expect to spend several weeks in training to learn about specific policies and office software. Successful assistants are gradually given more responsibilities and eventually get the chance to work directly with patients in exam rooms.